3 tips for small business customer retention

Blog / January 20, 2015

You've got your business started and placed some radio ads and a few ads in your local newspaper. Maybe you've even started a Facebook page. You had a good rush of people the first couple months and all of a sudden your customers have moved on. How do you retain customers? I'm going to give you 3 tips to help you retain your customers after getting them in your door the first time

1. Be honest, your customers count on it.

So you've got customers coming through your door. Your next goal as a manager or owner is to get them to buy something while they are with you, right? Wrong! Your goal as a new or small business is to make future sales to the same customer. If you make your own product you do that by providing quality in your product. If you're in retail you do it with honesty. Be truthful when speaking to customers. Don't be a 'sales person'. Be a friend.

They say "the customer is always right." Though that's not always true, the idea behind it IS. If a customer asks you a question about a product they expect you to be the expert. So answer in a truthful way. Buyers aren't dumb anymore, they can tell when you're 'bullshitting' them. Your product may not be the best on the market, but a customer is more likely to come back to a business they can trust. If you make a mistake, take responsibility for it rather than trying to cover it up with a lie. The best way to handle negative situations is to apologize, correct the mistake and move on.

2. Have consistency... in EVERYTHING

Tip number two is to be consistent in every aspect of your business. If your business is a service then keep your pricing and timing consistent with each and every job. In all types of business your employees should all have similar personalities when talking to customers. Most people don't like to wear uniforms, but it is ideal to have brand representatives dressed similarly so customers know who to speak to when they have questions. It's a form of reassurance.

Consistency is one of my ten commandments when making marketing materials for my clients. Most often your advertising and identity materials are the first impression you're going to make with a potential customer. You must have a strategy to be successful with marketing and consistency must be in the strategy. Your logo must convey the same message and colors as your business card, letterhead and everything else.

The design of the materials must align with the personality of your brand. One of my least favorite local brands Community Choice Credit Union. Their business is long lived (1953) and experienced, but their marketing materials convey a sense of youth and all around unreliability. Their website is loaded with different colors, difficult to navigate, and no main focus besides the slideshow of confusing imagery. For a serious industry like finance you should have a reliable, trustworthy brand.

3. Interact and make friends

Your brand should be treated as a person. It has its own personality and customers react to it.

Today it is so easy to 'mingle' with your customers through social media, in-store, and through mobile applications. Too many people try to use their social media pages to "advertise" to their followers. What they need to be doing is interacting and building trust and loyalty. Use 'posts' to establish your expertise in your industry. Ask followers questions to get them to interact and have fun with your brand. Most importantly, don't expect social media to make sales for you, but rather use it to create loyalty. If a customer follows your page they've already stated an interest with your brand. So use the page to keep them happy.

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